According to the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP), the biggest threat to the Garden State in 2023 continues to be homegrown violent extremists, White racially motivated extremists and cyber-attacks.
This latest “Threat Assessment” was evaluated and released in a comprehensive report on Feb. 24 to aid and guide counterterrorism along with cyber-security experts in how to preempt and take action against a security threat before it endangers the public.
The 15th annual assessment report details activities from various extremist groups both foreign and domestic including terrorist organizations, along with potential threats to our cyber-security network and our critical infrastructure.
The report also added a new threat category, “Abortion-Related Extremists,” targeting both pro-life and pro-choice extremists as equally dangerous.
“The threat landscape in New Jersey, throughout the nation and the world continues to evolve as we observe ideological convergences among extremists,” said NJOHSP Director Laurie R. Doran. “My office will face these challenges head-on and with the same resolve demonstrated in the past.”
“While we cannot stop every attack, we can reduce the risks through the identification of potential physical and cyber threats, by sharing information and intelligence with our many partners and educating and engaging the public to optimize preparedness strategies,” Doran added
Homegrown Extremists and Cyber Attacks
According to the 2023 NJOHSP Threat Assessment Report, there are five categories and shared characteristics for both homegrown violent extremism (HVE), and counterterrorism that remain the most prominent threats to the Garden State.
- Domestic Terrorism. The most prominent are abortion-related anarchist, anti-government, Black racially motivated, militia and sovereign citizen extremists pose a moderate threat. NJOHSP identified 27 domestic extremist incidents in 2022. These include threats, plots and weapons stockpiling. Lone wolfs who act alone with varying ideologies, targeting religious groups, minorities and law enforcement agencies. These individuals usually attempt to justify their violent actions by stressing their own personal grievances towards these groups, while simultaneously spreading false and hateful rhetoric.
- Social Media. Domestic and foreign threats from individuals using mainstream media and alternative social media platforms and encrypted messaging applications in their attempt to radicalize sympathizers. These individuals favor spreading disinformation and discord within the general public, encouraging those individuals prone to violence, to act.
- Foreign Terrorism. Foreign terrorist organizations will most likely pose a low threat for the Garden State; nevertheless, they remain under constant surveillance as a viable and continuous threat to the homeland. While this group may not be directly responsible for attacking the Garden State, the likelihood of exploiting global events and encouraging homegrown extremists to act on their behalf can never be ruled out.
- Cybersecurity Threats. Vigilance against cyber-attacks remains high within the Garden State. NJOHSP’s New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell warns that ransomware will likely be used against our citizens in 2023, exploiting vulnerabilities and weakness within computer and online applications, targeting personal information and account credentials and impacting a host of other cyber security issues, including supply chain vulnerabilities.
- Soft Targets. NJOHSP warned that the likelihood of disrupting our critical infrastructure remains a top concern. In that domestic extremists view our infrastructure as an appealing “soft target” with easy accessibility and limited security measures in creating widespread chaos. New Jersey’s soft targets include festivals, shopping centers, schools, houses of worship and transportation systems.
NJOHSP urges Garden State residence to be vigilant in their daily lives; if they observe suspicious activity they should immediately “See Something, Say Something,” and report the questionable activity to their local law enforcement or to NJOHSP’s Counterterrorism Watch Desk by calling 866-4-SAFE-NJ or emailing email@example.com
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